So wonders the confused Columbian: “I’m thinking of getting a bike. Should I get a bike? I looked on Craigslist, but I’m not sure.” Should you get a bike? Probably, for many reasons: exercise, free transportation, swag, ability to join the MBR sans rental fee. Now that we’ve convinced you, here’s how to buy one and what to do with the damn thing.

The first real grip I ever got on things/Was when I learned the art of pedalling--Seamus Heaney

Where to Buy It

  • MODSquad is just across the very un-bikeable Morningside Park. They have a 10% Columbia discount (which makes a big difference on a such a sizeable purchase) and when you get something fixed, they’re super friendly! Ask, and they’ll show you the tricks of their trade.
  • Innovation Bike Shop on 106th and Columbus is a good pit stop to top off saggy tires (and buy bike-related merch).
  • You knew it was coming: Craigslist. You can just get a bunch of cheap stuff on this glorious website. And, unlike your futon, you don’t have to carry a bike twenty blocks—you can ride it! Arrive ready to walk if the bike isn’t up to snuff. And as a rule of thumb, always offer half their asking price. Craigslist is a buyer’s market.

Where (and How) to Keep It

  • Lots of people keep ’em under their beds. Most two-wheelers fit perfectly below an XL twin, but squishing your beloved bike under the bed and or weaseling it out can be a workout on its own.
  • You can hang your bike from your ceiling or wall, especially if you live in a dorm with mounting brackets.
  • Some people get a bike stand, which is the best option for a suite of multiple cyclists.
  • Harmony Hall has bike storage in the basement, provided you can find it.
  • Lock your bike. And get the good stuff. You need a u-lock and chain, and even that isn’t a guarantee. Bolt through the frame and front wheel, and cable through the back. How much you invest on security may depend on whether you have a utilitarian, rusted mountain bike or a carbon-fiber miracle of science.

Where to Ride

  • Riverside Park has a nice path, though it gets crowded on weekends, and the Greenway becomes more jagged and harder to follow as you venture south. You can head all the way down to Battery Park at the southern tip of the island and see the Statue of Liberty. Or take the path north to the base of the GWB for six miles round trip.
  • The Central Park Loop is the Holy Grail of biking with lovely lanes, wide and smooth. Bonus: on Saturday some lanes are closed to cars, and on Sunday, autos aren’t allowed. Ample road space lets the speediest racers whiz by without interrupting the more leisurely paced riders. There are enough hills and flats to get a good, varied aerobic workout, without dying. Pro-tip for newbies: take your time on the sharp Lasker Pool downhill turn, and watch out for the horse poop in the southern section of the park.
  • If you feel like making a half-day of it, gather some friends and head up across the GW Bridge into Jersey. Turn right/ north, and fight 9W’s hills. There’s some auto traffic, but the shoulder is wide enough to stay safe. Pedal along to Piermont, a cutesy town with a gazebo and a fantastic huge bike shop for any necessary tune-ups. There’s also a less popular scenic route. When you get off the bridge turn left and you’ll run into a bike path that eventually curves back up north. Welcome to the wonderful woodsy River Road. On your right, waterfalls and wildflowers. On your left, the Little Red Lighthouse. You’ll eventually merge back onto Route 9 and continue cycling on the streets. The houses around this area in Jersey are super shmancy so gawk away.
  • Local rides, like Escape New YorkNYC Century, or Bike MS offer a route, food, repairs if needed, and other people!
  • If you’re feeling like an active activist, find a New York Critical Mass ride, and clog up the streets on purpose while meeting a bunch of other bikers.
  • Google Maps’ “Bicycling” filter shows you all sorts of bike routes in green lines! Thank you Bloomberg biking initiatives.
How to Be
  • Wear a helmet.
  • Stay off the sidewalks.
  • Shout at people wearing headphones who are in your way.
  • Consider investing in a bell.

Slight exaggeration via Wikimedia